|Posted by Lee A. Farruga on September 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM|
I have been given the rare and wonderful opportunity of reviewing two different art mediums that work together like clockwork. In 2011 Rush put on a fantastic stage show for their new work Clockwork Angels. The album was released in June, 2012. The novel of the same name was released on September 3rd.
I have listened to the album over and over again, either while on the computer or reading the novel version at the same time. I admit, I am of an age where I have known of and listened to Rush since Neil Peart joined the band. Yes, it has been a while. Rush is a Canadian icon. If you are Canadian you have heard their music, or at least heard of them. Knowing their past music gave me a better appreciation of this new work. Also, having listened to a variety of steampunk style music over the past few years it was quite easy to come to the conclusion that the album does not have a steampunk sound. It is most definitely classic Rush. The story, however, is wonderfully steampunk and the songs are absolutely fabulous! After my first listen through I found myself singing along. My favourite songs are Caravan, Headlong Flight, and Wish Them Well - an anthem to be sure.
The album alone tells a great story. Neil Peart is a wonderful storyteller. In the novel version, Kevin J. Anderson has taken the lyrics and filled out the story. He has given it more depth, colour, character - substance. His work is the key to the clockwork of music and story. Together they are in perfect time – the Watchmaker would be proud.
At the heart of the story is the classic tale of a young man yearning for more, learning about life and finding what is best for him. It is also an adventure story and a tale of utopia turned on its head. Stability and chaos at war and a simple every man caught in the middle, sometimes literally. Both sides fight to make him their poster boy and he fights them both every step of the way. Owen Hardy finds he has great inner strength and optimism. This keeps him moving forward through everything they throw at him, again sometimes literally.
All the characters in this story are believable, and far too real at times. The Watchmaker is so controlling it makes me cringe just thinking about life under his stability. The Anarchist is both sad and terrifying in his madness. Every person who becomes a part of Owen Hardy's story is memorable and the story simply wouldn't be complete without them. My favourites are the carnies of the Magnusson Carnival Extravaganza. They come to be Owen's balance.
In the end Owen Hardy finds what “all is for the best” for him. He finds his own version of utopia and it is is a beautiful conclusion to this full experience of song and story.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fantastic artwork in both the album's lyrics booklet and the novel. All of the illustrations were done by Hugh Syme. They capture the richness and feeling of various parts in the story. My favourite is the Fortune Teller, with a close second being the Wreckers.
Bravo to Rush, Neil Peart, Kevin J.Anderson and everyone involved in this project. I applaud you!
You can find out more about Rush and purchase the album at RUSH
You can find the Clockwork Angels novel at AMAZON